Diary - 06/08
Diary - June 2008
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June 2008


A pair of dog rose flowers

A basket full of elderflowers ready for drying in the summerhouse

A basket full of dog rose petals - you can almost smell them!

I was trying to think of a suitable word to describe June and the one which sprang to mind was “prolific”. I have never seen so many elderflowers and dog roses as have bloomed this year. Every hedge and roadway has been festooned with huge white blossoms wherever I looked. Writing this at the end of the month, I can see many elderflowers are now losing their colour as the seeds begin to swell, their early green colour merging into the green of the leaves.

We were able to travel to the farm in the early evening of Friday 13th, so I took the opportunity to go gathering along the hedgerows. It has been two years since I was able to gather sufficient elderflowers to dry, so I was anxious to fill a basket ready to spread them out on newspapers to dry in the summerhouse after the workshop. In the end I picked two baskets full to brimming, following animal paths through the hay meadow to find a resting place where deer sheltered next to the elder tree.

I also wanted to gather rose petals. Dog roses have always intrigued me, but apart from making tincture many years ago I’ve never really used it. It was a real joy to be able to pick a whole basket full of rose petals. The scent was so subtle and fragrant; it brought a smile to the face of everyone who smelled it. We used the petals to make a tincture along with petals from the apothecary’s rose, which was also blooming and the rest was put to dry for another time.

Four people came to the workshop, each finding their own peace as they walked down the track cut through the shoulder high hay field. We made a double infused rosemary oil in the crockpot, tasted elderflower and mint teas and sampled a cooling maceration of nettles, cleavers and red clover I had prepared the night before. We made a fresh nettle seed tincture which David Winston is using for kidney problems and Sally made a burdock leaf tincture to use with her family.

While Martin gathered plantain, Kate and Marion weeded chickweed from the calendula bed to take home to make an eczema oil. We all weeded parts of the Sanctuary, trying to release plants from becoming completely overgrown. Chris did a grand job with the large strimmer in mowing large sections of the waist high grass, but there is still lots more to do.

When the workshop was over, I made some elderflower oil using avocado and olive oil. It took me over two weeks to have time to turn it into salve to use as a face cream, but the smell is out of this world!

We were down at the farm the following weekend for my cousin’s wedding in nearby Condicote, but the weather precluded me from doing any work at the sanctuary.

 Instead I braved gale force winds to pick more elderflower for tincture and vinegar and rose petals to turn into infused honey (picture in gallery below) with the last few honeysuckle flowers and a vinegar to help soothe sunburn. The sheep had eaten all the greater plantain in the field where I usually pick it, but I found some more huge leaves along the road side leading up to the old barn. These were put to dry or made into tincture when I returned home.


Apothecary's rose Dog rose flowers A beautiful elderflower spray Jars of elderflower salve Greater plantain Honeysuckle rose petal honey
Kate, Sally, and Martin with the rose tincture Marion pouring oil Mug of elderflower tea Nettles, cleavers, and red clover maceration Nettles in seed Marion with some nettle seed tincture
Red clover Rosemary oil Rose petal and leaf vinegar Sally with the burdock tincture Sally and Martin clearing the grass The herbs used for this month's workshop

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